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Jeffs Defends Polygamy During Sex Assault Trial

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SAN ANGELO (AP) - Polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs has broken hours of silence in a West Texas courtroom with a lengthy sermon defending plural marriage as a constitutional freedom.

Jeffs is charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child and is representing himself.

The ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints broke his silence Friday by objecting to an FBI FBI agent’s testimony about records seized at his church’s compound during a 2008 raid. Jeffs then talked for nearly an hour.

The 55-year-old ecclesiastical Jeffs said his church has practiced five generations of polygamy as ordered by God, a higher power than U.S. courts.

Jeffs ended by saying “amen,” then repeatedly interrupted a prosecutor’s response.

Judge Barbara Walther ordered Jeffs to follow legal procedure, then dismissed the jury and called a recess.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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